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Is Working Night Shifts Bad For Your Health?

Is Working Night Shifts Bad for Your Health?

Is Working Night Shifts Bad For Your Health

The Effects of Making Drastic Changes to Your Sleep Schedule

Is changing work shifts bad for your health? Does working night shifts shorten your life? Why are rotating shift workers at higher risk for diseases? Does working night shifts have a negative effect on mental health?

Typically, people who start a work shift before 6:00am wake up outside of their natural circadian rhythm. This results in sleep that not only isn’t refreshing, but is more difficult to wake up from. The effects of making drastic changes to your sleep cycle are unhealthy, no question.

Studies conducted on animals strongly show that circadian disruption is associated with faster tumor growth rates

Circadian Rhythms and How They Affect Our Health

Disruption of circadian rhythms happens when our brain is out of sync with external time and with our body.

Circadian rhythms are biological processes such as the sleep/wake cycle and the production of hormones, which cycle about every 24 hours. Our “biological clock” is reset on a daily basis by light/dark patterns reaching the back of our eyes to ensure that we are in sync with the rising and setting of the sun.

Sudden and extreme disruptions in circadian rhythms due to something like changing work shifts every week or so can very much affect our physical, mental and emotional health.

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Why Rotating Shifts Are Bad: Are Rotating Shift Workers at Higher Risk for Diseases?

Does working night shifts shorten your life?

The International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) declared back in 2007 that the circadian disruption associated with rotating shift work can actually cause cancer, according to studies performed on animals.

Rotating shift workers are also more likely to become overweight or obese, and are more susceptible to type II diabetes, myocarditis and stroke, as well as high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

Quite simply, rotating shifts are bad for our health.

The circadian disruption caused by working rotating shifts can also affect hormone production, and even cell regeneration. How Working Night Shift Affects the BrainThis will lead to a decline in sleep quality and health, and, subsequently, work performance and attendance.

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How Working Night Shift Affects the Brain

How does working night shift affect the brain? Does working night shifts have a negative effect on mental health?

We have seen how working night shifts is bad for your health physically (especially when they are intermittent, as in rotating shifts). But let’s talk about how working night shift affects the brain and our emotional health.

A study from the American Public Health Association revealed that rotating shift workers are 28% more likely to experience mental health issues than those who work a regular 9-5 shift. These issues include mood disorders, depression and anxiety, as well as something called shift work sleep disorder.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, shift work sleep disorder is characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, excessive fatigue, insomnia, and moodiness and irritability.

Working night shift affects the brain in these ways by messing with hormones, not allowing sufficient natural sunlight (vitamin D) and the circadian rhythms already mentioned. But rotating shift workers may also experience what is known as acute melatonin suppression, which results from being exposed to artificial light at night. The hormone melatonin is normally produced at night, when it is dark, and prepares the brain and body for sleep.

So you can see how working night shifts would affect the brain and body in negative ways, and really mess things up when you just get used to working at night (as much as this is possible), and then have to abruptly switch your schedule entirely and your entire system has to completely re-adjust again.

And you can probably see by now how working night shifts could shorten your life!

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How Do I Survive Working Night Shift?

Here are some suggestions from the Occupational Health and Safety website for anyone wondering, “How do I survive working night shift?”:

For night shift professionals who want to remain entrained to the day shift lifestyle but still be alert during the night shift, they should:

  • Minimize bright light (> 20-30 lux at the eye) during the night shift, starting at around 9 p.m.
  • Receive saturated red (640 nm) light of at least 40-60 lux at the eye in rest areas or work spaces during the dim-light period. Exposure to red light can be used intermittently throughout the night, similar to taking a coffee break. Red light exposure will not affect melatonin levels but will provide an alerting stimulus similar to a cup of coffee.
  • Use task lights to increase light levels on the work plane and for specific, critical tasks, such as insertion of an IV.
  • Take public transportation and do not drive home themselves in order to avoid falling asleep behind the wheel.

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Summary of the Effects of Making Drastic Changes to Your Sleep Cycle:

In essence, extreme shifts to our circadian rhythms are going to have negative consequences, over time.the Effects of Making Drastic Changes to Your Sleep Cycle

The effects of making a drastic change in your sleep habits are worse than many people realize. But if you work, or have worked rotating shifts, you have likely experienced working night shifts having a negative effect on your mental health in some way, if not having had some physical troubles as well, which you may not have attributed to working these shifts.

Working night shifts is bad for your health, and working frequently rotating shifts is even worse. Rotating shift workers are at higher risk for disease, and working night shifts does have a negative effect on mental health, particularly, but can end up taking a physical toll, as well.

The Institute for Work and Health (IWH) reports that there is strong evidence that night, evening, rotating and irregular shifts are associated with an increased risk of occupational injury.

There are ways to survive working night shifts and rotating shifts, but if you want my opinion, I think it is both audacious and unwise for employers to demand employees to work rotating shifts, particularly. As well as reducing production for the company, it is dangerous for both the employees’ health, and the safety of everyone working that shift.


 

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4 thoughts on “Is Working Night Shifts Bad For Your Health?”

  1. Wow, I did not know that a disruption in one’s circadian rhythm can lead to faster tumor growth rates. That is very interesting to learn. 

    I definitely agree with you that it should not be common for workers to have to work late night shifts or even do rotations. However, unfortunately, I personally know two friends who work late shifts and it’s now getting to them. You can see the anxiety and the agitation. 

    In your opinion, can you recommend an over-the-counter supplement that can help my friends? 

    Regards

    Roopesh

  2. The main reason I’m still doing this website is because I haven’t yet exhausted all of the suspicions I’ve had, which you mention. They continuously prove to be true!

    Thank you, my friend. 

  3. Working night shifts disrupt ones sleep pattern and can lead to several health issues, including an increased risk of cancer. It is alarming to see though that those working on rotating shifts, are even more adversely affected. 

    A friend of mine is a nurse and for years she used to work night shift. And although she only worked two nights in a week, she was seriously fatigued and could never quite get the sleep she needed during the day. It also affected her social interaction and family life, so eventually she stopped doing night shifts. 

    I always suspected that woking nights was bad for your health, so thank you for confirming this. 

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